“Babe” is a subjective term. Or is it? Find me a Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue model that doesn’t qualify. Victoria’s Secret’s angels? Babes. Ever since Wayne’s World played around with the word—Babesaurus Rex, Baberaham Lincoln, etc.—“babe” has taken on a playful, post-modern context. A woman can be a babe and still be independent and competent. Respected for what they do and what they are, as well as how they look. But they still have to be a babe to be a babe. Which is why the press release on the group Babes with Bullets, “a ladies firearms adventure camp for novices,” has left my puzzler sore. (Watch it you!) There’s an obvious disconnect between “Babes with bullets,” “ladies” and the picture above. Here’s the thing . . .
I’m all for women learning how to own, carry and defend themselves with firearms. Obviously. The right of arms-bearing self-defense applies to all Americans, regardless of their reproductive organs. And it’s no secret that criminals are not the most gender sensitive souls. Well, they are in the sense that the violent members of the breed consider woman to be the weaker sex, and prey upon them accordingly. And then there’s rape.
So, all in all, go for it. Tool-up. I have. My wife has. My daughters will.
But why encourage women to acquire a potentially murderous means of self-defense while highlighting the objectification of women? Don’t get me wrong: I “get it.” Babes with Bullets is a joke. We are women, watch us shoot, in numbers too big to ignore. Babe THIS you bastard.
For me, it’s a question of context and tone. The NRA’s course for women’s self-defense is called “Refuse to Be A Victim” [promo video here]. That title reflects the life or death importance of the mission. “Babes with Bullets” is, as my mother would say, flip. As in flippant. As in lacking appropriate seriousness.
The organization’s name also stands a good chance of alienating women who don’t consider themselves “babes.” Women who might recoil at the term, feeling resentment at society’s preferential treatment of physically attractive women. “Babes with Bullets” asks non-babes to begin the process of ballistic empowerment by seeing themselves as “babes.”
Fair enough? Yes and no. Yes, it’s the ideal. Self-empowerment shouldn’t be ballistically based. At least not entirely. Anyway, why introduce the issue of physical self-image into this pursuit of personal safety, which cuts across the entire spectrum of age, looks, size and able-bodiedness?
Finally, the group’s name encourages media prurience. What’s the bet the camera crews focus on the most sexually appealing class member they can find? Babes with Bullets? Show me the babe.
I know it’s ironic: Mr. Flip flips off Babes with Bullets for having a sense of humor. So be it. Again, I support this group’s goal in full. I just don’t like the meme embedded in their marketing.